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Bugger the polls

Written By: - Date published: 10:13 am, June 29th, 2009 - 34 comments
Categories: labour, mt albert, national, polls - Tags:

With every new cock-up or dereliction of duty from this Key government, righties point to the Roy Morgan polls and say ‘seems the voters don’t care’. It’s true that National is still polling around 50% in the Roy Morgan and parties’ internal polls. Yet the old hands in the Left aren’t too worried. Short of Key punching a Kiwi live on TV, they don’t expect much to seriously hurt National’s polling just yet.

Voting is a bit like buying a car. Pride is on the line. You’re making a defining statement about yourself to yourself and others that you can’t undo in the short-term. You’re stuck with the decision you made for three years, what’s the point in admitting a mistake years before you can do anything to correct it? Even if you realise deep down that you aren’t happy with what you got, it takes time until you’re ready to admit you made the wrong choice (especially when you were warned), which means the polls take time to turn.

So a clever political party plays a three year strategy. The first year is about showing that Key has feet of clay and, hopefully, giving him some concrete boots to go with them. The second year is about establishing Labour as a government-in-waiting and Goff as future PM. The third year is about presenting a refined vision and policies, giving voters an alternative to more failed government by National.

All Labour needs to do is run National close. A dead-heat at 40% will do, a lead all the better.

That’s far from impossible. Labour managed over 41% for three successive elections from 1999 to 2005. It just has to regain the votes of the 6% or so who went over to National last time but voted Labour the previous three times. Right now, National is giving those voters every incentive to switch back. It won’t happen overnight but if Labour continues to play it smart and National continues to play it incredibly stupidly there’s every chance that those voters will switch back to Labour in time for 2011. Mt Albert has given renewed Labour activists’ faith in themselves. After losing electorates over the last few terms, they now know they can take National on head-to-head and win.

Last year, we heard plenty from these voters (‘I’ve always voted Labour but the Smacking Bill/lightbulbs/showerheads was the last straw). In 2011, we’ll be hearing them say ‘I voted for Key to give him a chance but he hasn’t delivered’ and Labour will know they’re in with a good shot.

34 comments on “Bugger the polls ”

  1. corkscrew 1

    Hmm push polling at ipredict? They have just opened a book on Shearer replacing Goff by the next election.

  2. Zetetic 2

    That would be free money but who can be arsed tying up 20 or 30 bucks for a 25% return in two and a half years when I could spend that money on booze right now instead?

    • Stinkmeaner II 2.1

      25% is a massive return. Comments like this, in addition to your useless posts are examples of why you should be slink back to garage for another drink.

      • Zetetic 2.1.1

        It is a massive return. But 25% of $20 is $5. Not worth my time to make a bet for a $5 payoff in 2 and a half years. I’m too old and too rich for that.

  3. Michael Over Here 3

    I agree that things are going to get dark for National. They’ve sold out the North Shore who were their base in Auckland.

    Still I don’t want Labour to get too cocky, they need to do some soul searching like the Democrats did in 2000. Things like the Tizzard internet debacle turned off many progressives. A bit of reinvention is undoubtedly in order along with a returning to the core ideals that made them Labour in the first place.

    • Lindsey 3.1

      You could at least spell Tizard right. Only one T! Reflects perhaps on the sophistication of your analysis.

      • Michael Over Here 3.1.1

        Ha! Only one T? Or only one Z? Try not to be too snarky when correcting others as it has the potential to backfire.

    • Anita 3.2

      What Tizard internet debacle?

      That’s a serious question btw 🙂

    • Stinkmeaner II 3.3

      I fully agree. The North Shore should annex itself from auckland and its mayor.

      Long live North Harbour!

    • r0b 3.4

      What Tizard internet debacle?

      Presumably the Copyright Amendment Act (“guilt upon accusation”)?

      • Anita 3.4.1

        Oh, ok.

        Does Michael Over Here really think that many people link it with Labour? I think it’s an issue which a very small segment of the population know or care about, and an even smaller segment know where it came from.

        • r0b

          Agreed, but MOH seems to feel otherwise.

          • Michael Over Here

            Yep, but I only have my own personal experience discussing politics to back it up so I could be wrong. During the last election, around my office and amongst friends, I discussed who they were voting for and why. The ones who were voting for National for the first time in a decade either said that it was “Nationals turn” or mentioned the Copyright Amendment Act specifically.

            It’s easy to argue against the entire idea of parties getting turns at being the majority but it was hard to argue against the Copyright Amendment Act not being a product of the Labour government.

            I’m not saying that this is an accurate sampling of New Zealand opinion, just citing a specific example of where I felt Labour had lost it’s way. My core argument is that Labour shouldn’t go to easy on itself and just expect National to lose the next election, we need to win it.

  4. Good post.

    Three comments:

    1. In 1999 Labour won 38.74% of the party vote. In 2002 and 2005 it won over 41%.
    2. You are right about the vote change process. In Mt Albert people had to make up their minds quickly and a groundswell was evident. In the rest of the country there will be this reluctance by swinging voters to admit they are wrong. But I do sense a major discontent with the way things are going. This government is not Labour Lite.
    3. You are also right that the reasons for change are receding quickly. The anti smacking stuff is a classic example. Last year it was the issue of the year. Now most people do not even want to vote in the proposed referendum.

  5. Stinkmeaner II 5

    Bravo Eddie, that was the best excuse for Phil-ins inability to dent nationals poll ratings i have heard yet.

    Just a note though – As long as Phil is in charge, nz wont vote him in. If labour are to survive they need a new face. There is talent in the backbenches but they must fight for leadership if they want to govern.

    As i dont see that happening in your three year plan, i think it will fail.

  6. mike 6

    labour have swapped clark and cullen for goff and cunliffe. Can’t wait for election year if that line-up remains. The press hounding goff asking him what he really thinks about “…… ” But in 1952 you said voted against “….” Mr Goff?

    • Quoth the Raven 6.1

      Why should someone remain consistent in their beliefs throughout their lives? Is it even possible? What I’m saying is you’re being a dick.

      • indiana 6.1.1

        ….so no problems with people “flip flopping” then…

        • Quoth the Raven

          It depends. This is not about commitments or promises this about positions on issues held by someone decades ago. Do you expect people to hold the same opinions all their lives? People can just admit to changing thier minds, though politicians rarely do that. They should.

          • indiana

            …perhaps then Eddie should not belittle the swing voter with his “voting is like buying a car” theory. I’d actually more than half expect some commentators on this site to stick to their opinions for the rest of their lives. Especially when it comes to socialism versus capitalism.

            • Quoth the Raven

              Well I can say I support a free market so am anti-capitalism, but I couldn’t say for sure I’ll hold that opinion long into the future. All I can say is that the arguments against capitalism and for the free market have persuaded me for now.

  7. infused 7

    Yep, Goff screws up time and time again. The most classic as pointed out by df is the state housing video from 1986. Very lol moment.

  8. Pascal's bookie 8

    jayzuz righties.

    Oh noes!! Please please please don’t campiagn against Goff based on the fact that he was a nobody in the Lange/Douglas days. If you want to make the next election about Rogernomics, when roger is in your coalition, that’s one briar patch the left is totally scared of.

    It is absolutely made of win for you guys.

    • mike 8.1

      “Goff based on the fact that he was a nobody in the Lange/Douglas days”

      That sums up pretty well why labour will never succeed with Goff at the helm.

      Wack it on the bill phil is yesterdays man and wouldn’t stand a chance against a concerted PR campaign pointing this out over and over and over…

      • Pascal's bookie 8.1.1

        That’s right mike. Please don’t throw the left into that briar patch.

      • calltoaccount 8.1.2

        Mike: Yesterday’s men are here and now. Nick Smith, Bill English, Tony Ryall, Tau Henare, Lockwood Smith, etc, and with the same agenda and at the same (roughly) party ranking. My point is, winning and losing is, hopefully, more than just simplistic spinning like your crappy argument.

  9. Swampy 9

    Problem is, Goff is like Jim McLay in 1985. He hasn’t pruned out the dead wood in the front benches, but he won’t because they’ll all turn against him. Who’s gone? Clark and Cullen, hey look, there’s a new leader who was a Cabinet Minister 20 years ago.

  10. logie97 10

    there is often a lot to be said for a Steady-As-You-Go character, particularly in unsettled times, to counter the fly-by-night-want-everything-now brigade. Young or youthful doesn’t always cut it… what’s the meaning of “you cannot put an old head on young shoulders”?

  11. jarbury 11

    A lot of National’s stuff ups so far have been on “inside the beltway” issues I think. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next few months, as unemployment really starts to bite and people ask whether the government could be doing more to protect or save their job.

    I found the Otorohanga item on “Sunday” very interesting, and it is an issues that will resonate with many I suspect.

    I still think Labour need to come up with their version of the Green New Deal – to really offer people an alternative: “this is how we’d do things, much better ain’t it?”

    • Bill 11.1

      That Otorohanga item was telling. Not just because of the subject but also because it is the first real criticism (that I’ve noticed) of the government on pop TV.

      I suspect there are many more such items in the pop TV pipeline and as they feed through, the Nats will plunge in the polls

  12. randal 12

    correct anlysis.
    the polls wont show anything just yet.
    listen to radio squawkback and they are still fighting the last election.
    and the squawkers are mostly drunk.
    as soon as they sober up there will be a different response.

  13. Zaphod Beeblebrox 13

    Why would you expect the polls to change when so little has been effected since the election. The spending cuts have been pretty minor, many of the changes have been symbolic or at best token PR exercises.

    Many of the cuts have intangible costs (eg adult education) or will be significant in years to come (carbon trading)

    People have very low expectations at present, they are not counting on becoming weathier in the next 12 months so the bar has been set low.

    The test for National will come when the rest of the world returns to economic growth. If people can’t see us matching Australia’s or the US’s growth then questions will be asked.

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